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Last week I realized I was in need of some TLC. My body and brain felt weary. I hadn’t truly cared for them in a while. And I now know, after years of expecting others to give me permission or flat out do it for me, only I can truly give my body and brain the care they need. Others can facilitate by providing the space or the means, but I have to do the work.
That’s why it’s called self-care.
So, last Monday I made a plan that carried me through the week, starting with a meal plan. I made sure my week was filled with healthy, home-cooked meals to nurture my body. I also exercised everyday – just enough to energize me and get me moving, but not so much that I would feel drained after.
On Wednesday I took time to look back on what I had accomplished last year and look forward at my goals for 2018. I decided I should follow a “do less, but better” approach this year (a phrase I learned from Hilary Rushford), so as not to spread myself too thin trying to accomplish all the things.
And then, on Friday, I ended my week with a trip to my local bookstore. I love going to bookstores to browse and sip coffee and read books. I find it incredibly relaxing and a way to quiet my busy mind.
When I arrived at the bookstore, I didn’t find the book I was looking for, but that didn’t matter so much. I found another book along my search, as I usually do, and proceeded to the in-store coffee shop. I bought my coffee, sat down at one of the tables and began to read.
At first my body and brain kept revolting. I was fidgety and unfocused. I kept feeling the urge to get up and leave. But the longer I sat there – the more I leaned in to the moment – the more I realized this moment was exactly what I had been needing.
My body and brain eventually melted into the relaxation. And that’s when I could feel the emotions welling up. I had been suppressing emotions with a busy body and distracted brain, and now it was time to release.
I smiled and felt joy. I cried and felt pain.
The emotions became present when I became present. They were all part of it – my little trip to the bookstore.
Sometimes we underestimate our need for “little trips to the bookstore.” We underestimate our need for nourishment and movement and reflecting and the little things that will fill us up until we spill over onto a coffee shop table.
But these little things, these small, deliberate acts of self-care, can make a big difference in how we feel from the inside out. And it just takes us acting upon them to realize it.
I truly didn’t realize how badly I needed self-care until that moment of surrender at the bookstore. I felt the heaviness of life being lifted off my chest and I felt just how light breathing can be.
We all have little things that calm us down and fill us up. And in a world where stress and running on empty seem synonymous with success, we desperately need relief and reminders that we are enough. We need reminders that our innermost self – our best, truest self – has always been worthy of love, care and personal time.
If you haven’t given yourself the gift of self-care in a while, I encourage you to do so in some small way today. Stop and listen to your body and brain. What do they truly need right now? What is your “little trip to the bookstore”?
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